The government is trying to hijack a vibrant, well organised and accountable sports entity
It literally pains me to respond to President Ramotar’s reckless assertions regarding accountability within the GCB, but my professional reputation and integrity demand that I pen this response.
The GCB has been maliciously persecuted by all and sundry over the past five years, first, by a group of disgruntled former administrators. Now, unfortunately, the same unfounded allegations are being made by no less than the President of Guyana. We can understand and rationalize the reason for this action by the disgruntled group as they were seeking to hijack the GCB and they were mudslinging as much as they could with the hope that something would stick. It did not since there was nothing factual to their wild and reckless statements.
Accountability is not a watchword synonymous with the modus operandi of several administrations within Guyana but the GCB stands tall amongst all them. The government must make up its mind about why exactly it has now decided to go on a witch hunt of the GCB.
The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport initially stated that he was disbanding the GCB because of the ruling by the Chief Justice and the obiter dicta that the state should intervene. He proceeded to disband the GCB, seize their assets and placed padlocks on their offices.
The AG then proceeded to file court proceedings stating that the property of the GCB belonged to the state on a principle of bona vacatia or ownerless property. Several Board officials and their families were harassed and had their homes searched by the police forcing some of them to resign.
The CCJ and the local Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the GCB on all of these matters but the government is still not satisfied.
Under court and police protection in February 2012, the Minister of Sport and AG seized all the financial records of the GCB including computers, cheque books, invoices, etc (two truckloads). This was done because it was said it was necessary to conduct a forensic audit. These were returned over a year later in a very quiet and sedate matter by the ministry. Surely, had the forensic auditors discovered any act of wrongdoing or fraud, the Commissioner of Police would have taken immediate steps to arrest those culpable or any corrupt officials of the GCB.
Further, in early 2011 the Ministry of Labour had subjected the GCB to a rigorous forensic audit of its entire operations. This resulted in a detailed report termed the ‘Foster Report,’ which cleared the GCB and all of its officers of any wrongdoing. I am aware that the Essequibo Cricket Board tendered a copy of this document to Parliament in their submissions on the Cricket Administration Bill.
Now that all of that has gone past us, the government is suddenly speaking of rigged elections and accountability.
The elections of the DCB and GCB were challenged by the above disgruntled group, which group incidentally was the client of the AG. In the case of the DCB, Mr Anil Nandlall was the attorney that withdrew one of the court matters when he realized that video evidence was tendered by the defendants.
I am a professional accountant with a young family, and I treasure the hard work and sacrifice that was required for me to be qualified. When allegations such as those made by the President are carelessly thrown around, it affects my career, my job, my personal, family and professional life, my very livelihood and ability to provide for and face my kids and family every day. I am forced to remind myself of another accounting colleague, Maurice Arjoon, whose career was cut short and destroyed following allegations.
I have been the Treasurer for the GCB for the past four years and a director of the WICB for those four years. Two years ago I was appointed to the WICB finance committee.
I can give the assurance that the accounts of the GCB have been audited for the last 20 years and for the last four I was responsible for getting those accounts in order. I can personally provide any information on the audited accounts of the GCB which may be required.
The last Biannual General Meeting of the GCB was observed by officials of the WICB who declared it “free and fair.” They are our parent body and main source of financing. They continue to recognize the GCB and obviously made those declarations.
With all due respect to the President, he and his ministers seem to be running out of reasons and excuses for attempts to hijack a vibrant, well organized, structured and accountable sports entity.
No entity in Guyana has withstood as much harassment and scrutiny as the GCB. I boast that truth, honesty, integrity and dedication are the tenets that enabled us to withstand the pressure from the government along with the disgruntled group of administrators.
I remain available to produce any documentation which may be needed to support my position on this matter.
Treasurer, Guyana Cricket
Board Director, WICB